Victim’s family satisfied with murder charge

Undated booking photo shows James Bixler. (Photo Provided/Lafayette Police Department)
Undated booking photo shows James Bixler. (Photo Provided/Lafayette Police Department)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – One week to the day after a Lafayette man was was found beaten to death, another man is formally charged with murder. James Bixler faces one count of murder in connection with Rick Couch’s death. Couch’s family told News 18 Wednesday they know the court process will be a long one, but justice needs to be served.

“We’re just trying to gather together and just try to comfort and just, you know, do what has to be done,” said Karen Moore.

The sisters of Couch, 54, said it hasn’t been easy coping with the fact that their brother was murdered in his home on N. 16th Street last Wednesday. Bixler, 25, who was arrested hours after Couch’s body was found, was charged with one count of murder Wednesday.

“I’m very pleased with the Lafayette Police Department detective and how, so far, everything is developing. I do believe they do have the right young man,” said Sherry Medlin.

According to court documents, a woman found Couch’s body on the floor and Bixler sleeping in a chair next to the body on the morning of Aug. 20. She said Bixler left when she went to get help. When officers arrived, they also found a bloody shirt and a shovel with blood on it. The woman told police she and her boyfriend, along with Couch and Bixler, who had a young child with him, were drinking the night before.

The documents state Bixler came back to the house later that morning. It was discovered that his girlfriend was the mother of the child. Bixler denied being woken up at the house that morning and claimed he slept at his father’s house. At the time, Bixler was shirtless and investigators found blood on his chest and socks. He was then arrested and taken to jail.

According to prosecutors, Bixler later admitted to investigators that his earlier story was a lie and that he had gotten into fight with Couch. He said the argument began when Couch asked if he wanted to watch videos and Bixler refused. Bixler said Couch snatched him up by his hair. Bixler said he then punched Couch several times and thought he knocked him out.

According to the autopsy report, Couch suffered fatal brain injuries. He may also have been kicked or stomped on.

Court documents reveal that Bixler told investigators it was his shirt at the scene and he probably was the one who stepped or stomped on Couch, as well as hit him with the shovel.

“I do believe that they have enough evidence. That’s the reason why they have proceeded so quickly with this,” said Medlin.

“The family wants to be there, so we know what’s going on every step of the way. They brought the guy in, they did read his charges off to him. He was charged with murder. He was denied a bond and we are pleased with that,” said Moore.

Although a murder charge has been filed, Couch’s sisters said nothing will ever take away the pain for them, Couch’s seven children and 13 grandchildren.

“Going to the court, going through the whole process, going through everything — it just continues, the pain continues on and on,” said Medlin.

“Our prayers go out to the children. We ask that everyone’s prayers come out, especially for the children and for our family,” said Moore.

According to online records, a pretrial hearing for Bixler has been set for Oct. 3. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language, off topic, or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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